Madrid, Spain, Jul 9, 2012 (CNA) - Bishop Demetrio Fernandez of Cordoba in Spain called on Catholics to pray for more vocations to the priesthood and religious life, noting their crucial role in the life of the Church.
“The vitality of a Christian community can be measured by the vocations it receives and inspires for the edification of the House of God,” he said in his weekly newsletter, dated July 5.
“Each vocation is a miracle of God, an exceptional gift.”
Bishop Fernandez urged members of the faith to create a climate that is favorable and welcoming to “all vocations of special consecration to God.” In this way, “We all come out winners,” he said.
The local ordination of six new priests this year is “the culmination of a year of blessings from God for our Diocese of Cordoba,” he continued. “In addition we have fifteen new candidates entering the seminary to prepare for the priesthood.”
Bishop Fernandez also expressed joy at the upcoming proclamation on of St. John of Avila as a Doctor of the Church on Oct.7 in Rome.
“It will be a culminating moment in the history of our Diocese of Cordoba” and of the Church in Spain, “which feels the urgency of making this giant of holiness and teacher of saints known more and more.”
He concluded by inviting Spaniards to give thanks to God for their parishes and the different ecclesial realities, as well for Christian families and lay people who bear witness to Christ.
“We thank God for Catholic schools, those run by our parishes or by so many other religious congregations who serve the Gospel in this noble cause,” the bishop said.
Castel Gandolfo, Italy, Jul 9, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI has been reliving the happy days he spent in the Italian countryside with Bishop Fulton Sheen and others in 1965 as they prepared the Second Vatican Council’s decree on the missionary activity of the Church.
“I am truly grateful for this opportunity to see this house in Nemi once again, after 47 years. I have fond memories of it, perhaps the most memorable of the whole Council,” he said to the General Chapter of the Missionaries of the Divine Word who gathered July 9 in the Ad Gentes Center overlooking Lake Nemi.
Speaking without notes, the Pope recalled how he received a “very great gift” when he was invited to join the preparatory group March 29 and April 3, 1965, despite being “a very young theologian of no great importance.”
At the time Pope Benedict was 37 years old. As a young priest and academic, he was attending the Second Vatican Council as the chief theological advisor or “peritus” for Cardinal Joseph Frings of Cologne.
Away from the noise of Rome, said the Pope, it was “a beautiful thing” to be “surrounded by this greenery, having this breath of nature, this fresh air,” as well as “the company of many great theologians” who were entrusted with the “important and beautiful task” of preparing the Council’s decree on mission.
“There was Fulton Sheen who would fascinate us in the evenings with his talks,” he said, remembering some of those present during a week that was, for him, “spiritual enrichment, a great gift.”
Providentially, Pope Benedict’s recollections come in the wake of his June 28 decree which recognized the heroic virtue of Bishop Sheen, declaring him to be “venerable.” At the time of their 1965 meeting in Nemi, the popular U.S. author and television evangelist was the Auxiliary Bishop of New York as well as the National Director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith.
Despite some disagreement within the group, which included the renowned Dominican theologian Yves Congar, the Pope said that everyone soon “converged into the one dynamic of the need to bring the light of the word of God, the light of God’s love to the world and give a new joy to this proclamation.”
The result was “Ad Gentes” (To the Nations), the Council’s Decree on the mission activity of the Church, which was passed almost unanimously by the Council Fathers on December 7, 1965.
“Thus,” said Pope Benedict, “these days gave birth to a good and beautiful decree” which was fueled by the classical idea of “bonum diffusivum sui” or “good has the inherent need to communicate, to give of itself, it cannot remain self-contained.”
After his remarks the Pope imparted his apostolic blessing and then made the 20-minute car ride back to his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, only six miles away from the village of Nemi.
Lima, Peru, Jul 9, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Amid ongoing protests over the building of what will be the largest mine in Peru, Bishop Jose Martinez Lazaro of Cajamarca has offered to facilitate dialogue between protesters and government officials.
In remarks to RPP radio on July 5, Bishop Martinez Lazaro said that the “Church has the best of interests in intervening in this situation” involving construction of the local Conga mine.
The protests in Cajamarca have so far left five people dead, including a 17 year-old. The deaths and the burning of government buildings have led to Peru to declare a state of emergency in three provinces in the region. According to the country's constitution, the military will take over in the provinces in question until further notice from the president.
Bishop Lazaro said he believes both sides in the conflict have acted wrongly and are to blame for the failure to find a solution through dialogue.
He noted that the lesson that should be learned from the conflict is that all Peruvians must “learn to live together and understand each other. We must take into account the past, the present and see the future with optimism and broad vision.”
Melbourne, Australia, Jul 9, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
A concert was held July 5 at the Melbourne Recital Centre to remember Irena Sendler, the Polish Catholic who saved some 2,500 Jewish children by smuggling them out of Warsaw’s ghetto.
The concert, titled “Irena’s Song: A Ray of Light through the Darkness,” featured acclaimed Israeli composer and conductor Kobi Oshrat and Israeli vocalist Karin Shifrin. The pair collaborated with the Australian Orchestra Victoria to remember the heroine through music.
The 20-minute piece performed by Oshrat, Shifrin and the orchestra, was written as a collage of the life of Sendler and a tribute to her courage.
The night featured guest speakers and the support of both Israeli and Polish guests of honor, including the ambassadors of both countries. Sendler’s daughter also appeared in a video address, adding personal experiences of her mother to the evening.
Sendler led an underground group of women who helped to smuggle Jewish children out of Warsaw’s ghetto and into the safety of homes and convents. She often hid the children in trash cans, coffins, tool boxes or other creative locations to get them to safety.
In order to reunite the children with their families after the war, Sendler buried coded records of the children’s names, aliases and locations in jars under her neighbor’s apple trees. Rescuing Jews was punishable by death in Poland, however Sendler did not reveal the children’s locations, even after interrogation.
Although captured, imprisoned and tortured by the Gestapo, Sendler was rescued by her underground network “Zegota.” While imprisoned, she kept a Divine Mercy holy card that she presented 36 years later as a gift to John Paul II.
She died in 2008 at the age of 98 after being recognized for her courageous acts during the war. She was nominated for several Nobel Peace Prizes and recognized as Righteous Among Nations.
The guest speakers and musical performances highlighted virtues that Sendler lived by: love, humility and tolerance. The heroine will be remembered for her courage and sacrifice to save the lives of many Jewish children.
Jos, Nigeria, Jul 9, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Archbishop Ignatius A. Kaigama is concerned over the seemingly endless violence against Christians that claimed at least 58 lives this past weekend and hundreds of others in recent weeks.
It is “our prayer that something definitive will be done to stop the situation that is inhuman,” the Archbishop of Jos, Nigeria and Nigerian Bishops’ Conference president said.
In a July 9 interview with Vatican Radio, Archbishop Kaigama said that the violence against Christian villages around Jos “doesn't seem to stop.”
Although he was recently awarded the Institute for International Research's annual peace building award, the archbishop said he and his priests are discouraged by the silence of foreign governments surrounding the violence in Nigeria.
A peaceful resolution “cannot be left to just one country,” the archbishop said, urging a “collective effort.”
Many countries have issued travel warnings for their citizens but have otherwise remained silent.
And yet, Archbishop Kaigama stated, “this is the time we need them to express solidarity, that human show of love and support.”
The area surrounding Jos has a long history of violence and religious tension, as it lies in between the mainly Muslim north and predominately Christian south.
The most recent in the series of attacks began this past Saturday, leaving at least 58 dead after the initial bombings and reprisal attacks. The deceased include a federal and a state lawmaker.
Some have blamed the attacks on Muslim herdsmen of the Fulani ethnic group, but they have denied any responsibility for the violence.
Archbishop Kaigama said he spoke with Plateau State Governor Theodore Orji who believes the perpetrators are outsiders who were hired to carry out the attacks.
Days before the most recent string of attacks, Archbishop Kaigama condemned the Islamic fundamentalist group Boko Haram, which has conducted deadly bombings in the area in the past.
“This Boko Haram issue is exceptional,” he said, calling their attacks “un-Islamic” in a July 4 Vatican Radio interview. “It has to be understood correctly. It is not Muslims in Nigeria fighting Christians in Nigeria or vice-versa.”
In the past, religious tensions have been high, but not to the degree they have reached following the July 8 attacks.
Nonetheless, he said it is important to clarify that Muslims and Christians can, and often do, live in peace together.